Monday, December 11, 2017

Speculative fiction and science at the 2018 Critics' Choice Television Awards

I told my readers to "Stay tuned for the television nominees after a post about the Nobel Prize winners" at the end of 'The Shape of Water' leads speculative fiction at the 2018 Critics' Choice Movie Awards.  I begin my delivery of that promise with the acting and series nominees for comedies and dramas from KTLA on YouTube.

This segment aired on the KTLA 5 Morning News, Wednesday, December 06, 2017.
Unlike the movie nominations, no one series dominated the nominations for television series, as six drama series earned three nominations each.  Four of them are speculative fiction series, "American Gods," "Game of Thrones," "The Handmaid's Tale," and "Stranger Things 2," all of which are nominated for Best Drama Series.  The other two are "This is Us," also nominated for Best Drama Series, and "The Good Fight," which has three acting nominations.  Two other speculative fiction shows, "Outlander" and "Orphan Black," both have their female leads nominated for Best Actress in a Drama Series.  Two shows that are speculative-fiction-adjacent thrillers, "Bates Motel" (horror) and "Mr. Robot" (science fiction), also have one nomination each, "Bates Motel" for Actor in a Drama Series and "Mr. Robot" for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.  That's 16 out of 30 possible nominations in the drama categories for speculative fiction, a very good showing for genre television.

Speculative fiction didn't fare as well in comedy, as there is only one nominated comedy series that qualifies as speculative fiction, "The Good Place," a fantasy.  It has two nominations for acting, Ted Danson for Best Actor in a Comedy and Kristen Bell for Best Actress in a Comedy.  Otherwise, the shows that are adjacent are comedies about scientists and engineers, "The Big Bang Theory" and "Silicon Valley," which have two nominations each.  None of them are the most nominated comedy series.  That honor goes to Netflix's wrestling show "GLOW" with four, including Best Comedy Series, where its competition includes "The Big Bang Theory" but not "The Good Place" or "Silicon Valley."

Deadline has the rest of the nominations for miniseries, movies, and animated shows.  There, one show did stand out, "Feud: Bette and Joan" with six nominations, the most of any show at these awards.  Fortunately, the sole nominated speculative fiction miniseries, "American Horror Story: Cult," is not competing against it in any category, having been nominated for Best Actor in a Movie Made for TV or Limited Series.  Neither is one of the two nominations about science and scientists, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," which is nominated for Best Movie Made for TV.  On the other hand, "Genius," is competing against "Feud: Bette and Joan," having been nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Movie Made for TV or Limited Series.

The final category consists of almost nothing but speculative fiction.  Best Animated Series has "Archer," "Bob’s Burgers," "BoJack Horseman," "Danger & Eggs," "Rick and Morty," and "The Simpsons" as nominees.  The middle three, "BoJack Horseman," "Danger & Eggs," "Rick and Morty," probably have the strongest fantastic and science fictional elements, while "The Simpsons" has aliens as guest stars and an annual horror show on Halloween.

Follow over the jump for all the categories that include speculative fiction nominees along with my thoughts about their chances. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Science fiction, activism, science, and economics for Nobel Prize Day 2017

For the Sunday entertainment entry, I'm going to do what I did last year for Bob Dylan, feature the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.  Normally, I'd have done this in October, when the winners are announced, but I was too busy writing about the News and Documentary Emmy Awards.  However, I have a second chance today, as it's Nobel Prize Day.
The Nobel Laureates are announced at the beginning of October each year. A couple of months later, on 10 December, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death, they receive their prizes from the Swedish King – a Nobel diploma, a medal, and 10 million Swedish crowns per prize. All Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, except for the Nobel Peace Prize, which is awarded in Oslo, Norway. (When Alfred Nobel was alive, Norway and Sweden were united under one monarch, until 1905 when Norway became an independent kingdom with its own king.)
Euronews has the story in Kazuo Ishiguro wins 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature.

British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro has been announced as the winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature.

It was announced by Professor Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy.

Japanese-born Ishiguro won the prize for uncovering "the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world," the Swedish Academy said on awarding the nine million crown ($1.1 million/936,000 euros) prize.
While his most famous novel is probably the Booker Prize winner "The Remains of the Day," which was made into an Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning movie, Ishiguro deserves being mentioned here because of his dystopian science fiction novel "Never Let Me Go" and fantasy novel "The Buried Giant."  The former was made into a movie written by Alex Garland and starring Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, and Kiera Knightley that was nominated for five Saturn Awards, Best Science Fiction Film, Best Actress for Mulligan, Best Supporting Actor for Garfield, Best Supporting Actor for Knightley, and Best Writing for Garland; Garfield won.*  Yes, a speculative fiction writer won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

That's not unheard of.  The question Was any science-fiction or fantasy author ever awarded the Nobel prize for literature? attracted a list of laureates who have written speculative fiction in the answers, including Doris Lessing, William Golding, Rudyard Kipling, Hermann Hesse, and William Butler Yeats.  Still, all are the kind of authors I examined in Part II of When did speculative fiction go 'mainstream'? When SF novels became best-sellers -- authors who made their reputations writing mainstream works and only later wrote speculative fiction, particularly science fiction.  Ishiguro fits that mold.  I won't hold that against him; I'm just happy a speculative fiction author won.

Follow over the jump as the Nobel Prizes shift from fantasy to reality.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

'The Shape of Water' leads speculative fiction at the 2018 Critics' Choice Movie Awards

Awards season has begun and I am marking it by reminding my readers that I told them in the conclusion of 2017 Environmental Media Association Awards for film and television to "Stay tuned for this year's nominees for the Critics' Choice Awards."  Wochit Entertainment has the headline for the opening salvo of what will be a barrage of major awards shows: The Shape of Water Dominates Critics’ Choice Awards Nominations.*

Nominations for the 2018 Broadcast Film Critics Association’s Critics’ Choice Awards have been announced. Guillermo del Toro’s sci-fi romance The Shape of Water stole the show with a dominating 14 nominations [including] Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Cinematography.
Deadline lists all of them, which I've re-ordered to suit my priorities: Best Picture, Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie, Best Actress for Sally Hawkins, Best Supporting Actor for Richard Jenkins, Best Supporting Actress for Octavia Spencer, Best Director for Guillermo del Toro, Best Original Screenplay for Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, Best Cinematography for Dan Laustsen, Best Production Design for Paul Denham Austerberry, Shane Vieau, and Jeff Melvin, Best Editing for Sidney Wolinsky, Best Costume Design for Luis Sequeira, Best Hair and Makeup, Best Visual Effects, and Best Score for Alexandre Desplat.  Wow!  Not only do these 14 nominations lead speculative fiction films, they lead all films nominated.  Four films, "Dunkirk," "Call Me By Your Name," "Lady Bird," and "The Post," are six nominations behind at eight each.  I had thought either "Beauty and the Beast" or "Pirates of the Caribbean" to be the best fantasy film of 2017.  No longer.  I now think "The Shape of Water" will be the favorite in that category at the Saturn Awards and in Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie here in the Critics' Choice Awards.

The next most nominated speculative fiction film is "Blade Runner 2049" with seven nominations, including Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie, Best Cinematography for Roger Deakins, Best Production Design for Dennis Gassner and Alessandra Querzola, Best Editing for Joe Walker, Best Costume Design for Renée April, Best Visual Effects, and Best Score for Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer.  In every single category, it is  up against "The Shape of Water."  I don't like its chances, either here, where "The Shape of Water" would be favored, or at the Saturn Awards, where I expect "The Last Jedi" will clobber it for Best Science Fiction Film and a bunch of other awards.

Deadline didn't even notice "Blade Runner 2049."  Instead, its article mentioned "Get Out," which has five nominations.  It is going head-to-head with "The Shape of Water" in four categories, Best Picture, Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie, Best Director for Jordan Peele, and Best Original Screenplay, also for Jordan Peele.  Only Daniel Kaluuya as Best Actor escapes competing with a nominee from "The Shape of Water."  While I think "Get Out" is the best non-supernatural horror film of the year, which means it will be nominated for Best Thriller Film at the Saturn Awards and most likely win that category, I doubt it will win anything other than Best Original Screenplay at the Critics' Choice Awards.  Even here, it's an underdog to more conventional films.

In fourth place among speculative fiction films with, appropriately enough, four nominations is "Beauty and the Beast," my pick for best fantasy film of the year until "The Shape of Water" came along.  The live-action remake of a Disney animated classic earned nods for Best Production Design for Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer, Best Costume Design for Jacqueline Durran, Best Hair and Makeup, and Best Song for "Evermore."  In the first three categories, it is up against either or both of "The Shape of Water" and "Blade Runner 2049" and in the last it is competing with a song from  Disney/Pixar film "Coco" and a Grammy Award nominee from "Marshall."  I'm ambivalent about its chances in any of those categories.

Three superhero films tie for fifth with three nominations, "Logan," "Thor: Ragnarok," and "Wonder Woman," all of which are nominated for Best Action Movie.  The critics think "Logan" has better acting with Patrick Stewart nominated for Best Supporting Actor and Dafne Keen for Best Young Actor/Actress.  I expect both will be nominated in the equivalent categories at the Saturn Awards.  In contast, "Wonder Woman" has better technical achievement, being nominated for Best Costume Design and Best Visual Effects.  "Thor: Ragnarok" has both good acting and technical achievement with Chris Hemsworth earning a surprising nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy (I guess he's that funny) and the film competing with "Blade Runner 2049," "The Shape of Water," "Wonder Woman," "War for the Planet of the Apes," and "Dunkirk" for Best Visual Effects.  I'm not confident about any prediction for that field!  On the other hand, if I'm confident about any prediction of mine, it's that "Wonder Woman" is the favorite to win Best Action Movie.  It's also among my two favorites to win Best Comic-Book-to-Film Adaptation or its equivalent at the Saturn Awards.

"War for the Planet of the Apes" earned two nominations, Best Action Film and Best Visual Effects.  I think the first is misplaced (it should be the fifth nominee for Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film), while the second shows the strength of screen capture and CGI to portray its ape characters.  The other speculative fiction film to garner two nominations is the Disney/Pixar film "Coco" for Best Animated Film and Best Song for "Remember Me."  I think it might win Best Animated Film.  I'm not as confident that it will win Best Song against "Stand Up for Something" from "Marshall" by Common and Diane Warren.

Seven speculative fiction films have one nomination each. "It," my pick for best surpernatural horror film of the year, is nominated for Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film.  I doubt it will win at these awards, but I think it's a lock for Best Horror Film at the Saturn Awards.  Hong Chau earned the one nomination for "Downsizing" as Best Supporting Actress.  The other four nominees for Best Animated Feature, "The Breadwinner," "Despicable Me 3," "The LEGO Batman Movie," and "Loving Vincent," have their only nomination in this category.  Finally, "Thelma," which is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, has enough fantastic elements for me to consider it speculative fiction.

Follow over the jump for all the categories that include speculative fiction nominees along with my thoughts about their chances.

Friday, December 8, 2017

2017 Environmental Media Association Awards for film and television

At the end of 'Chasing Coral': awards and nominations and looking forward to next year's Emmys 4, I told my readers I found another set of entertainment awards right up my alley.
I discovered the Environmental Media Awards, USA during my research.  This is an event I should have known about already as well.  I plan on writing about them, too.  Stay tuned.
The  Environmental Media Association Awards page states the purpose for these awards: "The EMA Awards honor film and television productions and individuals that increase public awareness of environmental issues and inspire personal action on these issues."  That's exactly the kind of purpose I thought these awards would have and why I'm glad I finally stumbled across them.  These are the films and television shows I should be featuring here.

The Environmental Media Association Awards YouTube channel does not have separate clips of the movie and television winners being announced, but it does have a sizzle reel showing all the celebrity honorees and their presenters.

Relive the excitement of the 2017 EMA Awards, Hosted by Jaden Smith, with our sizzle reel. Toyota and Lexus presented the Awards.
Variety listed the honorees.
Jaden Smith, a member of the EMA board, will host the awards. The show will also honor Russell Simmons with EMA’s Mission in Music Award, Natalie Portman with the EMA Ongoing Commitment Award, John Paul DeJoria with the Innovator Award, and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg will be given the org’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Now I know which celebrities have a green reputation.

It was cool to see the green stars, but I'm interested in the green shows.  Here are this year's nominees and winners from Variety and the Environmental Media Association.
Feature Film

“Moana” (Disney)
“Okja” (Netflix)
Winner: "Okja."

On the one hand, it's a pretty weak year for environmental themes in feature films that only two were nominated between August 2016 and July 2017.  On the other hand, I don't disagree with either the nominees or the winner one bit.  It doesn't hurt that both are speculative fiction. "Moana" is an animated musical fantasy with two Grammy nominations and was nominated for Best Animated Film at the Saturn Awards.  "Okja" is a action/adventure film with fantastic elements about the excesses of industrial agriculture.  I fully expect to see "Okja" nominated for some category at the Saturn Awards, whether in film, presentation on television, or streaming television.  If it's not nominated, I will consider it an oversight, as it could fall between the cracks of the categories.  I also expect nominations for "Okja" in special effects and movie for television at next year's Emmys.  My readers and I will have to wait until the middle of next year to see how all these predictions fare.  Maybe by that time, I'll have an entry devoted to it.

Next, the category that led me to these awards.
Documentary Film

“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” (Paramount Pictures)
“Before The Flood” (Fox & National Geographic)
“Chasing Coral” (Netflix)
“From The Ashes” (Fox & National Geographic)
Winner: "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power."

Wow, that's a worthy list of nominees, all of which I can recommend to my students and all on related topics of climate change and the energy sources that cause it.  "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power" is also a worthy winner.  Now I'm looking forward to how it fares at the Academy Awards.  Next month.

Follow over the jump for the television nominees and winners.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sander Levin to retire, likely leaving Fred Upton as dean of Michigan's Congressional delegation

Conyers isn't the only member of Michigan's Congressional delegation to announce his retirement.  Stay tuned for news about another U.S. Representative leaving under more ordinary circumstances.
That's how I finished Conyers resigns, setting up scramble for his seat.  It's time to me to pass along this video from Wochit News: U.S. Representative Levin To Step Down.

On Saturday, U.S. Representative Sander Levin of Michigan said he would not run for reelection next year. He is stepping down after more than three decades in Congress. The 86-year-old Democrat is a member of the House of Representatives’ powerful Ways and Means committee. The committee deals with tax and economic policies as well as spending on programs such as Social Security and unemployment. In a statement acknowledging his decision to step down, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi praised Levin. Pelosi said, “Since his days as a student activist, Congressman Levin has been a fearless and dedicated voice for justice and progress."
Levin does not plan to be idle in retirement.  The Detroit Free Press reported that he plans to "join the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, where he will continue to work on issues that have engrossed him in Congress, such as health care and trade issues."

The Free Press also noted the effect Levin's retirement will have on Michigan's Congressional delegation.
His departure from Congress at the end of 2018 is just the latest departure of veteran Michigan representatives, many of whom held powerful positions as the chairs of key committees, including U.S. Reps. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, Dave Camp, R-Midland, Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, Dale Kildee, D-Flint and Mike Rogers, R-Brighton. When they left Congress over the last six years, they had a combined length of service of 141 years and significant clout in the halls of the nation's Capitol.

In the last three election cycles, eight of Michigan’s 14 members of Congress have retired. If U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit, resigns from office or decides not to run for reelection in 2018 because of a sexual harassment scandal, only U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, would remain from Michigan's stable of veterans with more than 10 years of experience in Congress.
It looks like Upton will remain in the U.S. House of Representatives, as he has decided not to run for U.S. Senate, a possibility I mentioned in Whew! Kid Rock is not running for U.S. Senate.  WOOD-TV reported on that announcement in Upton seeks re-election in House, no Senate run.

After speculation of a possible run for U.S. Senate, Rep. Fred Upton announced he will not be seeking the nomination.
First Kid Rock, now Fred Upton.  If I were Debbie Stabenow, I'd be breathing a lot easier.

Enough of the Senate contest.  The Free Press also speculated on who might replace Levin.
But now, it's time to turn the reins over to the next generation. Names that have popped up as possible successors to Levin include his son Andy Levin, a Bloomfield Township Democrat and president of Levin Energy, which deals with clean energy initiatives, and state Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren.
This is a contest I actually will have to vote in, as Levin is my Representative.  I have a long time before I have to decide, as the primary election isn't until August, but I'm not enthused about either possible candidate mentioned above.  Fortunately, Daily Kos lists two more.
Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner also acknowledged he was considering, though he said he didn't have a timeline for when he'd decide. Businessman Kevin Howley, who lost a 2012 race for Oakland County executive 57-43, said he was looking at who else runs before deciding.
I like those two more than the previous two, as I know both of them.  Between the two, I'd vote for Meisner.  He has the nickname of "The Gentleman Assassin" -- he can kill while smiling and being polite.  I like that.  Just the same,  I'm hoping that Jim Townsend, who used to be my State Representative, declares his candidacy.  He's someone I could support enthusiastically.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Conyers resigns, setting up scramble for his seat

Original at Detroit Free Press.
I think John Conyers should retire.  He's had his term as the longest serving Representative.  Let someone else have the honor.  He doesn't deserve it anymore.
That was the opening paragraph of a comment I left in an open thread at We Hunted The Mammoth last month.  Well, I got my wish.  WXYZ reported yesterday Rep. John Conyers officially announces retirement, read resignation letter.

Rep. John Conyers, who has been battling sexual harassment allegations by former female staffers, says he is retiring. Conyers told "The Mildred Gaddis Show" on WPZR-FM Tuesday that this will be his final two-year term. The 88-year-old Democrat says he is endorsing his son to take his seat in Congress. Ian Conyers, the grandson of John Conyers' brother, earlier said his great-uncle would not run for re-election and that he would run for his seat in Washington, D.C. Conyers, who was first elected in 1964, easily won re-election last year in the heavily Democratic 13th District. The House Ethics Committee has been reviewing multiple harassment allegations against Conyers.
The man did a lot of good over the years, but it was time for him to go.  I that is not a new thought of mine, as I stated it in 2015.
Conyers almost didn't qualify for the ballot last year, as too many of his signatures were collected by paid petition circulators, which was illegal at the time (that provision of Michigan's election law was overturned in the process of getting Conyers back on the ballot).  That's a sign that Conyers has been losing control of his operation.  Along with other rumors about his age getting to him, it indicates that it might be time for Conyers to retire.
Now that Conyers has not just retired, but resigned, who will replace him and when will that happen?  WXYZ reported on that as well in Gov. Snyder reviewing dates for special election to replace John Conyers.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is reviewing possible dates for a special election in Michigan's 13th Congressional district to replace John Conyers. Rep. John Conyers officially announces retirement, read resignation letter The 88-year-old congressman announced Tuesday he is retiring amid sexual harassment allegations. Ari Adler, a spokesman for the governor's office, said they received his resignation letter and are reviewing potential dates for the special election. Conyers was scheduled to serve out his two-year term, which ends on Jan. 3, 2019, but because his retirement is effective immediately, there will now be a special election for his seat.
In addition to the two younger Conyers, Coleman Young II, who just lost to Mike Duggan for Detroit mayor, the Detroit News listed a long roster of potential candidates.
Democratic activist Michael Gilmore is running for Conyers’ seat. Other names circulating Tuesday as potential candidates included state Sens. David Knezek of Dearborn Heights and Coleman Young II of Detroit, former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Detroit, Westland Mayor Bill Wild, Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones and Councilwoman Mary Sheffield.
Counting both Conyers cousins, Young, and Gilmore, four candidates have already declared their intent to run for this now vacant seat in a safe Democratic district.  I fully expect more to throw their hats into the ring.  The one I would root for is Tlaib, who organized protests against Trump last year.  Those got my attention and respect.

I have one last item to note about this entire affair.  While it was past time for Conyers to retire and this scandal got him to do the right thing, I found the catalyst for it to be tainted, as I noted in the rest of my comment at We Hunted The Mammoth.
That written, the Wonkette article noted that a recurring subject of this blog, Mike Cernovich, was the one who broke the story and pointed out that it was reminiscent of how Roger Stone knew that Al Franken was going to be exposed before the news broke.  Josh Marshall noticed this and asked "Why Cernovich?"

This doesn't mean [Cernovich] and Stone are wrong -- even a stopped clock is right twice a day -- it just means that they're motives aren't pure and they are still not friends of women.  As Wonkette wrote, "beware of ratf*cking."
It also raises the question of "Why Conyers?"  Yes, the allegations were backed up by evidence and later accounts by other women and I think that Conyers needed to retire before the scandal, but why Conyers and not some other Representative who misbehaved?  I noted two years ago that "According to Voteview, he's the most liberal member of the Michigan Congressional delegation, as well as one of the oldest."  I suspect that may be part of the answer to Marshall's question, "Why Cernovich?"

Conyers isn't the only member of Michigan's Congressional delegation to announce his retirement.  Stay tuned for news about another U.S. Representative leaving under more ordinary circumstances.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Trump declares the downsizing of two national monuments in Utah

Just this past January, I wrote National monuments, more of Obama's environmental legacy about Former President Obama creating Gold Butte National Monument and Bears Ears National Monument.  While I reported on the controversy surrounding the designation of Bears Ears, I concluded "the monument will be a good thing and that it will last."  I should not have been so sanguine.  I still think it's a good thing, but Bears Ears may mostly go away, surviving in two smaller parts under a different name.  CBS News reports Trump drastically downsizes nationally protected land in Utah.

President Trump announced that he cutting nearly two million acres from the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah. National Geographic's environment editor, Brian Howard, joins CBSN to discuss the impact and the expected legal response.
As Howard said, this move is unprecedented and will face stiff legal resistance.  I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up in the Supreme Court, which means that it will take years for this move to take effect, if ever.  I expect to be posting updates on this terrible move for the environment, as well as another attempt to obliterate Obama's legacy, right up to the end of the decade.  It should be fun to watch.

By the way, I had no idea how many paleontological resources there were inside both national monuments until I stumbled across these two images from the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP).  They're out of date, as they were designed to prompt people to use them during the comment period, which expired a while ago, but they're still interesting.

First, Bears Ears, which SVP wrote should be expanded, not reduced.

Next, Escalante-Grand Staircase.

As a paleontologist who worked at Rancho La Brea and gave presentations about Pigmy Mammoths at Channel Island National Park, I'm impressed, as the topic of fossils in National Parks and Monuments is one that is near and dear to my heart.  I wish I had known earlier, but I doubt my input would have made a difference to this administration.  Sigh.  At least I have its space policy, which is cold comfort for all the ill Trump and Zinke have done for the environment.

Monday, December 4, 2017

'Chasing Coral': awards and nominations and looking forward to next year's Emmys 4

I concluded Science, science fiction, and fantasy among the 2017 Grammy nominees with an aside that served as a program note.
Speaking of the Critics' Choice Documentary Awards, "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power" earned three nominations, as did "Chasing Coral," the sequel to "Chasing Ice," so I might just write about them in a future entry.  Stay tuned.
My students have been telling me about "Chasing Coral" all semester and I have been telling them they can watch it and write a report for extra credit, so I think it's time I write about it here.

As I wrote above, "Chasing Coral" earned three nominations at last month's Critics' Choice Documentary Awards, Best Documentary, Best Director, and Best Song in a Documentary for "Tell Me How Long."  It was in competition with "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power" for Best Documentary and Best Song in a Documentary; neither won.  Another film about science, nature, and the environment, "Jane," an examination of Jane Goodall's early career, won Best Documentary, while "Jump" from the movie "Step" won Best Song in a Documentary.  Jeff Orlowski also did not win Best Director for "Chasing Coral", losing to Evgeny Afineevsky for "Cries from Syria" and Frederick Wiseman for "Ex Libris: New York Public Library."  I'll keep the winners in mind for future entries, as they might be nominated for an Oscar or an Emmy and they are on subjects that are on topic for this blog.*

While the critics like it enough to nominate the film, the audiences seem to love it.  Two of its wins are audience choice awards at the Sundance Film Festival and the Boulder International Film Festival.  At the latter, it also won Best Feature Documentary and Call to Action Award.  That gives me added confidence in recommending it to my students.

Enough of the film's critical and popular reception.  It's time to watch its Official Trailer from Netflix.

Beneath the waves, coral reefs are dying on a massive scale. These scientists and filmmakers are fighting to stop it. Chasing Coral is now streaming on Netflix.
That certainly does the job a trailer should do, make one want to watch the movie, but it doesn't say enough about the findings and their significance.  PBS NewsHour has those in ‘Chasing Coral’ documents destruction of coral reefs.

In the new documentary “Chasing Coral,” a team of photographers, divers and scientists analyze more than 650 hours of underwater footage to illustrate the real-time effects warming seas. NewsHour Weekend’s Saskia De Melker talks to Jeff Orlowski, the director of the film, about the challenges of showing these rarely-seen effects of climate change.
I agree with Orlowski; that climate change has become politicized is "massively unfortunate for human civilization" (hi, fellow Crazy Eddie!) and it needs to be depoliticized to solve the problem.  Also, I was pleased to learn that "Chasing Ice" won Outstanding Nature Programming at the News and Documentary Emmy Awards in 2014.  I've been telling my students about its Oscar nomination for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song for years.  Now I can tell them it's an Emmy Award winner, too.  I expect I'll be able to tell my students about "Chasing Coral" earning an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Nature Documentary next summer and its likely win in the fall.  I'm looking forward to that.

Speaking of Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song, here is Tell Me How Long Music Video Feat. Kristen Bell from Netflix.

Kristen Bell performs "Tell Me How Long" from the new film Chasing Coral, now streaming on Netflix.

Music & Lyrics by Dan Romer and Teddy Geiger
That's a very appealing song about an appalling subject.  Because of that, I hope it earns an nomination for an Oscar.  If it's eligible for a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics, I hope it's nominated for that, too.  After all, Common pulled that off for “The Letter to the Free” from "13th," which was also in a feature film.  And, yes, a work can be nominated for both the Primetime Emmys and the News and Documentary Emmys.  "Wild New Zealand" managed to pull that off, being nominated for both Outstanding Narrator at the Primetime Emmys and Outstanding Nature Documentary the News and Documentary Emmy Awards.  I hope Netflix submits "Chasing Coral" to both awards programs.  It deserves the recognition.

*Much to my surprise, I've never mentioned Jane Goodall before at this blog, even though she's a scientist, and environmentalist, and a celebrity.  That's a combination that should have attracted my attention years ago.

Also, I discovered the Environmental Media Awards, USA during my research.  This is an event I should have known about already as well.  I plan on writing about them, too.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Science, science fiction, and fantasy among the 2017 Grammy nominees

I told my readers to "Stay tuned for a more standard Sunday entertainment feature focusing on the Grammy nominees relevant to science, science fiction, and fantasy" at the end of St. Clair wins 2017 WDIV Battle of the Bands plus my other favorites.  Here are the relevant nominated works from the Los Angeles Times with some assistance from File 770 for the science entries and re-ordered to suit my priorities.
Score soundtrack for visual media

"Arrival" - Jóhann Jóhannsson, composer
"Dunkirk" - Hans Zimmer, composer
"Game of Thrones: Season 7" - Ramin Djawadi, composer
"Hidden Figures" - Benjamin Wallfisch, Pharrell Williams & Hans Zimmer, composers
"La La Land" - Justin Hurwitz, composer
This field is a sweep for genre entertainment from top to bottom.  Every nominee is a past or likely future Saturn Award candidate.  "Arrival" was nominated for Best Science Fiction Film and won Best Film Screenplay.  "Dunkirk" is likely to be nominated for Best Action Film early next year.  "Game of Thrones" is a perennial nominee for Best Fantasy TV Show.  "Hidden Figures" won Best Action/Adventure Film.  Finally, "La La Land" won both Best Independent Film and Best Film Music.  It also won Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score) at the Academy Awards.  I would say "La La Land" is the favorite, but the Emmy electorate is not the Oscar electorate and can vote differently.  For example, John Williams lost at the Oscars but won the Grammy for "The Force Awakens."  I'm not convinced that will happen next year.

The next category is also a genre sweep from start to finish.
Compilation soundtrack for visual media

"Baby Driver" (Various Artists)
"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol. 2" (Various Artists)
"Hidden Figures: The Album" (Various Artists)
"La La Land" (Various Artists)
"Moana: The Songs" (Various Artists)
In addition to "Hidden Figures" and "La La Land," which I mentioned above, all these films are past or present Saturn Award nominees.  "Baby Driver" is likely to join "Dunkirk" as in the Action category.  "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is a lock to be nominated for Best Comic-to-Motion Picture Release and the movie I expect most likely to win, even if it isn't my favorite in the category.  "Moana" was nominated for Best Animated Film Release.

As for which will win, it depends on what the voters want.  If they want all original songs, they pick either "La La Land" or "Moana" with the advantage to "La La Land."  If they want a combination of old and original, they can vote for "Hidden Figures," the songs in which I really enjoyed and would vote for if I were eligible.  If they want all recycled, they can choose between "Baby Driver" and "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2."  Both of the latter had really interesting mixes of classics, but I preferred "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Genre films aren't as well represented in the next category, but are stronger than one might think at first glance.
Song written for visual media

"City of Stars" — Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, songwriters (Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone)
"How Far I'll Go" — Lin-Manuel Miranda, songwriter (Auli'i Cravalho)
"I Don't Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)" — Jack Antonoff, Sam Dew & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Zayn & Taylor Swift)
"Never Give Up" — Sia Furler & Greg Kurstin, songwriters (Sia)
"Stand Up for Something" — Common & Diane Warren, songwriters (Andra Day featuring Common)
"City of Stars" won for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song) at the Academy Awards and makes for the third nominee from "La La Land."  Congratulations to Hurwitz for getting nominations in all three visual media categories.  It beat "How Far I'll Go" from "Moana" in that category at the Oscars, so I would say "City of Stars" is favored.  The last song from last year was "Never Give Up" by Sia from "Lion."  That film makes this a surprisingly strong showing for genre, as it was nominated for Best Independent Film at the Saturn Awards, even though it is a biography and thus not really fiction.

As for the nominees from this year's films, I expected "Fifty Shades Darker" to be recognized.
Just like the first installment in the trilogy, it looks like the songs will be the best part of the movie.  Here's to seeing them nominated for Grammys and Oscars along with the movie itself nominated for a Razzie!
One prediction down, two to go.

The song that I think is most likely to give "City of Stars" a run for its money is "Stand Up for Something" by Common & Diane Warren from "Marshall."  Common won both an Oscar and a Grammy for "Glory" from "Selma" and he just won an Emmy for “The Letter to the Free” from "13th."  Even if he doesn't win the Grammy, this is a good sign he'll be nominated for an Oscar in January.  Now he just needs to write a stage musical so he can be eligible for a Tony to earn the EGOT.

That's it for music from movies and television.  Follow over the jump for two categories that include recordings about science plus a category for movies and television about music.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

St. Clair wins 2017 WDIV Battle of the Bands plus my other favorites

In the footnote to Michigan marching bands parade in the holiday season over the years, I told my readers "I'll follow up on WDIV's Battle of the Bands in a future post.  Stay tuned."  I thank my readers for their patience; today I report the winner as well as my other favorites.

Unfortunately, Southgate Anderson, which I was rooting for in Rockford marching band in New York for Macy's Parade plus Battle of the Bands for Detroit's Thanksgiving Parade, did not win.  However, I'm not upset about it.  Looking at the clip of their performance in WDIV's Battle of the Bands shows that they didn't take their appearance all that seriously, so I wouldn't have voted for them if I hadn't declared my preference beforehand.  Instead, the St. Clair Marching Saints won.  The WDIV video has the announcers talking over the band, so I'm posting St. Clair Marching Saints - Thanksgiving Parade 2017 by Julie Martel on YouTube instead.

That's a much better performance than Southgate Anderson's or all but two other marching bands in the parade in my opinion as a former marching band judge.  Of those two, it was slightly but definitely better than one and nearly tied with the other.  Besides, St. Clair won the Battle of the Bands the previous time it marched in the parade.  Had I known that, I would have been likely to call it the co-favorite along with Dakota High School from Macomb, Michigan, which I'll show over the jump.

While I complained about WDIV's announcers talking over the band, one of them did say something interesting, that the band did a tribute to "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."  Here is a performance of that program, which took place three years ago.

Marching Band Festival at Port Huron High School. October 7, 2014
I'm enough of a Monty Python fan to have mentioned the comedy troupe in the the body of five entries (six including today) and quoted them in the comments to another.  All but one of them have referred to "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," so of course I embedded this show.

Follow over the jump for the rest of my top three in America's Thanksgiving Parade.